Spezza admits ‘picture is not looking good’ for Sens’ playoff chances

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After a rough weekend in which they only managed to secure one point from two games, the Ottawa Senators know their playoff outlook appears grim.

Just ask the captain.

“The picture is not looking good right now,” Jason Spezza said, per the Ottawa Citizen. “So we can’t look at it.”

Ottawa came into this weekend essentially needing all four points, but saw those hopes dashed after blowing a 4-1 lead over Montreal with less than four minutes remaining on Saturday — eventually losing in OT — then losing against Colorado on Sunday despite outshooting the Avs 39-22.

As such, the Sens are now in serious danger of missing the postseason for just the third time in the last 17 seasons — and missing would be a major disappointment. Losing long-serving captain Daniel Alfredsson to free agency in the summer was a potential foreshadow for struggle, and the team looked shaky out of the gate by going just 10-11-4 over its first 25 games of the season.

That said, Ottawa did rally to go into the Olympic break in reasonably good shape — 26-22-11 — and ID’d itself as a buyer at the trade deadline, sending a pair of picks to Edmonton in exchange for Ales Hemsky.

Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of reaction owner Eugene Melnyk will receive should the Sens miss the playoffs. He’s been highly-criticized throughout the year for both how the Alfredsson situation played out, and the club’s internal salary cap — Ottawa is operating at around $56 million, and part of the Hemsky deal was contingent upon Edmonton picking up some of his salary.

That review might be a bit premature, though, because it’s not like the Sens are throwing in the towel on this season just yet.

“We’ve got to win games,” Spezza said. “We’ve got 15 games left. We’re not going to throw in the towel right now. We’ve still got to play the games. We’re frustrated with this weekend, especially because we knew it was an important weekend.

“But we’ve got 15 games left. Let’s see if we can put something together here. I’ve seen it done before.”

Calm, then storm: Penguins, Senators trade Game 7’s goals in 20 seconds

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Here’s hoping that you didn’t take a poorly-timed break in the second period.

For much of Game 7, the Ottawa Senators have been able to slow down the Pittsburgh Penguins, resulting in a contest that went scoreless for what sometimes felt like ages.

Chris Kunitz changed that, long after missing on a golden opportunity shortly after Mike Sullivan decided to put him on Sidney Crosby‘s line. Kunitz finished a nice rush play to make it 1-0 9:55 into the second. Check out that goal below.

Guy Boucher didn’t have to deploy “attack mode” very long, as Mark Stone stunningly tied it up 1-1 just 20 seconds later. That surprising tally can be seen in the clip above this post’s headline.

Who’s playing for Penguins, Senators in Game 7

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We finally know the lineups for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Pittsburgh’s tweaks are most interesting, which isn’t a huge surprising considering the consistent inconsistency bred by their injury issues.

The Penguins will get Conor Sheary and Justin Schultz back in the mix. Despite showing a lot of energy warming up, Patric Hornqvist isn’t good to go. Here are the full Penguins personnel notes; also realize that this is Matt Murray‘s birthday.

Ottawa places Chris Kelly back in, getting the nod over Tommy Wingels and Colin White. Kelly’s had some experience in these scenarios.

You can watch Game 7 live on NBCSN. The game can also be viewed online and via the NBC Sports App. Here is the livestream link.

Sabres confirm signing defenseman Antipin; Is his KHL teammate Lee next?

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The Buffalo Sabres announced the signing of defenseman Victor Antipin* on Thursday, confirming rumors that surfaced more than once this month.

Antipin, 24, enjoyed a solid season in the KHL with Magnitogorsk Metallurg. Even so, the signing might be interesting if it serves as an appetizer for the Sabres bringing in Antipin’s teammate from Metallurg, Chris Lee.

On one hand, Lee is 36 and couldn’t make the jump fromt he AHL to the NHL in previous opportunities (most reently with the Penguins’ farm system in 2009-10). On the other, he had an eye-popping 2016-17 season in the KHL: 65 points in 60 games as a defenseman.

Lee’s previous numbers aren’t as outrageous, but still quite good, at least form a scoring standpoint.

While Lee’s possible addition is a situation to watch, there’s some excitement about Antipin.

“Victor is a well-rounded defenseman who has played in all situations at the pro level,” Sabres GM Jason Botterill said. “His mobility and puck-moving skills make him a perfect match for what we’re hoping to build with our defense corps next season.”

Granted, there’s some debate about his ceiling.

Still, for a Sabres team that badly needs help on the blueline, this addition – or eventually these additions – could provide a nice boost.

* – The Sabres’ releases feature his name spelled “Victor.” Other outlets, including hockeydb, have it as “Viktor.”

WATCH LIVE: Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins – Game 7

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Will it be the Ottawa Senators or Pittsburgh Penguins against the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Final? We’ll find out after tonight.

Yes, it’s that time: a Game 7 to see who advances to the final round. The winner will also hold home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final.

Could Erik Karlsson, Craig Anderson, and the rest of the Senators pull off an upset on the road, winning the franchise’s first Game 7? Can Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins give Matt Murray a birthday present with another Game 7 win?

Find out on NBCSN. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

Here’s what you need to know:

Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (series tied 3-3)

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream live here)

Check out the highlights from Ottawa’s 2-1 win in Game 6

Related:

Pretty or not, Sens aim to play their game vs. Pens in Game 7

Penguins prepare for another Game 7, this time as favorites

Modern-day Senators have never won a Game 7

It’s “reasonable” to expect Schultz and Hornqvist will play Game 7